Thoughtfully made advertising sales promo film extolling 1950s suburbanites as citizens and consumers.
Shows typical facets of the family life of young couples living in the suburbs. Points out how Redbook Magazine, aimed exclusively at young adults, is of value to them.
This is the movie about suburbia as it is widely imagined in pop culture: a place where educated white middle-class couples moved after World War II in an escape from crowded cities, seeking a patch of green and a better life for their children. And In the Suburbs is in fact an accurate film about this singular place and time in American history, a particular breed of suburbia that existed only for a short period, is now extinct and lives only as a clich.
But In the Suburbs is about much more. Produced as an audiovisual aid for Redbook magazine ad salespeople to convince national advertisers they could deliver them the suburban market, it's also a rich evocation of postwar affluence and the suburban "market-in-place." During World War II, the national income rose and savings accounts ballooned with unspendable money. At the same time shortages of consumer goods and a housing shortage that dated back to 1928 created a huge, pentup demand which exploded after the war. The first great consumer rush was into new housing. As quickly as possible, all those who could afford a house bought and moved, many into new suburban communities. Then, in the mid-Fifties, the housing market paused to breathe. The first wave of migrants had been rehoused. What now existed was a huge market-in-place; millions of new households, each in need of the same goods as their neighbors, ready to spend and buy. How could advertisers reach this market? In the Suburbs celebrates this group and promotes Redbook's "personal relationship" with young suburbanites.
In the Suburbs is one of the most remarkable and unusual sponsored films ever made. It escapes the triteness for which advertising films have ever been criticized, and its own values look a lot like those of the avant-garde. Mixing color and black and white, handheld and tripod, sounds and silence, still photographs and moving images, photographic images with printed pages, it follows its own course playfully and pleasurably. Even as it observes the habits, amusements and preoccupations of a homogeneous, button-down, exclusionary culture, it likens suburban life to a theme park, a dynamic place of constant amusement and visual variation. In such a landscape the residents are themselves in constant motion, shopping, dancing, partying and rollercoastering. A brief black-and-white documentary montage of Fifties problems -- the Korean War, McCarthyism, civil rights, strikes and the Hungarian revolution -- fails to convince the viewer that suburbanites are as serious and thoughtful about the world outside as they are about home, children and shopping.
The combination of skills and playfulness, of hard-nosed analysis and formal innovation makes In the Suburbs an uncommonly pleasurable film. It's also an unusually penetrating tour of a landscape that combines place with shared, self-conscious experience and pop culture. If you look at the Fifties press, at literature, television and advertising of this period, you will see that suburban homes, trees, lawns and shopping centers were a major public preoccupation in this time. Everyone wanted to look into the picture window. The families in In the Suburbs knew this. They knew they were the cynosure of Fifties media (that's in fact where most of them probably worked) and also knew that marketers were hustling to get a piece of their action. The surveillance-type footage shot through the rear-view mirror says it all; the quiet streets were under close observation for clues as to what lay below their surface.
Targeted for advertisers by a production company well acquainted with advertisers' needs, In the Suburbs is a freewheeling film with a hard core. There's no romance in its presentation, nor is there much mystification about suburbs and suburbanites. It was intended for an audience of realists that believed in market research and kept its eyes on the bottom line. This mandate enabled the makers to picture their subject with imagination and originality.
¥ 7:00:29:11- 7:00:46:22
Crisp image of picnic table (with red checkered cloth) with shiny appliances upon it and a baby's high chair all situated in a shady area in a suburban yard. Cut to reflections of children playing in the yard in the metal coffee pot and toaster.
¥ 7:01:34:16- 7:01:53:09
Excellent driving POV by suburban homes and the people who inhabit them. Crisp and colorful, these shots are edited together beautifully giving the sequence fluidity. We pass a couple walking across their green lawn, a woman going into her front door, a family standing along the road by their house, and a another family taking a walk. The beauty of this sequence is that they all look at the camera as it quickly moves by them. It also shows us a variety of suburban homes.
¥ 7:13:53:16- 7:14:12:11
Excellent driving POV, but the images of the suburban neighborhood and its people are seen in the round rear view mirror outside the driver's seat. We view crisp images of people in their yards (children playing, fathers watering the lawn) and walking down the street. Beautiful surveillance sequence.
Appliances: toaster; coffee pot; carpet sweeper;
amusements: roller coasters;
Children: girl playing with blocks; children fighting with each other; child crying;
couple building a brick fireplace in their backyard; roses in backyard;
still images of misfortune: soldier sleeping on a bench in a train station; NO VACANCY sign; montage of stills indicating lack of room, noise and commotion of city living;
moving vans; driving through developments; stills of families and children;
excellent pillow fight; flipping eggs in an electric fryer; child's pajama'd legs come down the carpeted stairs; family at breakfast;
dog and child eat out of the same bowl;
woman runs out of house with a tray of cookies that have burned; children fighting with each other; two dogs fighting with each other;
Paying bills; Father playing with baby; couple playing happily in a hammock and then toppling out;
mothers walking children and strollers; still of fathers making baby formula; stills of leisure;
party; liquor decanters; child dumps full ashtray onto rug; father and daughter playing board game; child eating cake batter off of electric mixer blades;
butt-naked child stuffing dryer with laundry;
stills from Redbook magazine of their articles; pregnant woman with a bunch of women friends;
unloading station wagon of grocery bags and baby-related items; walking out of store with many consumables; people walking through shopping centers;
Macy's; parking lot; shopmobiles (carts to get around shopping centers); checkout counters; rows of grocery carts;
man raises the top on his convertible car electrically; push-button sequence; escalator; child trying out wading pool in store; woman testing a baby carriage before purchasing; much shopping of all kind; shoe shopping; pinwheels; archery exhibitions; wedding; stills from nursery school at shopping center;
nighttime at the shopping center; neon sign from stores; dancing at the shopping centers;
discussion and footage of Redbook's "Easy Living" promotion in shopping centers; mannequins;
footage shown as in rear-view mirror of car;
U.N.; Asian children being tended to by G.I.s; Roy Cohn (with Sen. Joseph McCarthy); strikers with signs; mob overturns car; 2 young people with sign: Up with Faubus; Down with Integration; troops with rifles at the ready escorting college-age people through American town; air raid siren; people scurrying down stairs to air raid shelter; refugees;
stills of laying pipes under roads; woman shaking her head no;
two articles from magazine: "I Live in a Development and Hate It"; "I Live in a Development and Love It."
mothers sitting on lawn with children; shots seen as if in a crystal ball; pulling out of driveway in car and taking off; rows of washing machines and cars for sale;
rocket blast-off in color; also P.O.V. from the rocket looking down to the earth;
[This film has been designed by Jean Sharpe, Tracy Ward, Carlo Arcamone, Bert Spielvogel, Joseph Cole, Herbert Hagens and produced by On Film, Inc. in black and white and color, In the Suburbs. Copyright Redbook Magazine. Virginia Bell graphic design main titles collectives]
The suburbs - almost as much written about it as Madison Avenue. And just as much in need of reflection. [backyards suburbia picnic tables checkered tablecloths trees toasters mirrors reflections anamorphism coffee pots chromium children playing toast]
Like Madison Avenue, life in the suburbs has its good moments, and others not so good. "Oh no!" [children tarpaulins bricklaying mortar masonry frustration grimaces alphabet blocks childishness barbecues throwing tossing faces facial expressions]
"Oh!" Discouraged? Disgruntled? Heck no! They're glad to be here. [flowers gardens yards]
Remember? We've got to move! [Honk. no vacancy sign railroad stations benches sleeping homelessness housing shortages World War II stills photographs sinks plumbing cities crowding mothers children noises sound effects plugging ears apartments brownstones 800 Homes Waverly Gables real estate development]
[moving suburban landscapes suburbs moving vans tracking shots traveling shots ecstasy color affluence leisure relaxation spaciousness]
And so they joined the stream of family life in the suburbs. Soon to become part of its familiar sights. Soon to absorb its familiar sounds. Anybody home? [houses homes station wagons]
[giggle whistles humming shrieks and laughter egg frying footsteps bathrooms bathtubs children kids baths spraying water babies pillow fights bedrooms conflict battles stuffed animals frying eggs electric frying appliances coffee pots kitchens breakfast stairs steps downstairs feet stair carpeting newspapers parents].
These are what Redbook means by its young adults. People in a certain living situation, with particular interests and particular goals. [middle-class middle class yuppies families toast popping up tigers stuffed animals]
These young adults begin to discover Redbook about the time they apply for their marriage license, start life in their own homes, have their first baby, take out their first loan,
and they stay with Redbook through their busiest years. As Redbook sees them, they're an energetic lot, a carefree lot, even though so suddenly plunged into family life. [couples marriage monogamy nuclear families fun leisure parents fathers mothers laughing hammocks]
As the babies start coming, they usually decide to concentrate on their houses, with the woman staying home to learn new ways to run a household. [stereotypes gender roles botching burned cookies food]
Where it soon dawns on her that she could use a little expert help! While the kids are young, many of the mothers try to stay at home, which isn't always so easy either. [growling crying backyards children dogs pulling fighting conflict shadows observers]
There are times when it is good to have other young adults to talk to. [social interactions friends]
But wherever they go, there is usually a baby nearby. And about the time the parents think their children have them hypnotized, they give a party - [running beaches sand playing parties liquor booze]
and bring the kids. "school construction" "what are you talking about",[Ivy Leaguers yuppies couples pregnancy pregnant women baby boomers maternity dresses heat dogs bowties children rugrats]
"I'd rather have only big auditoriums" "you don't educate" "I always know how my children behave" [canapes hors d'oeuvres food]
"that's good", "oh no, you're kidding." [dumping ashtrays soiling carpets rugs dirt cigarette butts security blankets messing messy pajamas]
Any magazine written for young adults, and matching their busy lives, is bound to be lively, full of things to talk about, varied and warm. [cleaning carpetsweeping illustrations]
[Teach your child to lose checkers fathers and daughters frustration]
[Young Adults at Home. A Handbook of Fast and Easy Last-Minute Meals. saltines]
[Washday is Any Day -- Or Night bare bottoms buttocks washing laundry children nudity nakedness washing machines washers]
[Wardrobe for the Mother-to-Be pregnancy maternity wear clothing clothes]
[Beyond Road's End leisure recreation riding horses horseback riding]
On their own for the first time, and determined not to miss a single new homemaking idea, [A Place for Everything - Even the Children kitchens home improvement plans]
they're busy just making choices, and welcome solid information in concise form. [What Car Repairs Should Cost Redbook's Complete Guide to Tableware First Additions To Fill Out Your Set Your Itemized 18-Year-Bill for Raising a Child The High Cost of Children framing frames landscapes demarcation]
It takes a while for a young couple to realize all they're in for when they buy a house, or when they have a baby. And when they buy a house and have a baby - [consumption consumers buying station wagons driveways commodities products bassinets paper bags mirrors fans]
So hardly realizing it, they come into their purchasing stage and are off on a wild, nonstop ride.
[amusement park rides rollercoasters chairs commodities Tide detergents Ferris wheels toasters]
It's a happy-go-spending whirl, reflected in the windows of the suburban shopping centers where they go to buy. [store windows reflections]
Redbook has been studying shopping centers because the people who created the suburbs are young adults. And the shopping centers are built in their image.
Selling to young adults demands a new kind of marketing. [malls traffic pedestrians]
For these young adults, these shopping centers have built fountains, commissioned statues, put in restaurants and free standing stairways.
They've included banks, loan offices, rental plants, plant nurseries, and places to buy building materials. [Bailey's Delicatessen Household Finance HFC]
The shopping centers see these young adults as people whose homes are always in need of expansion. People who buy in large quantities and truck it away in their cars. [shopping carts children babies wheelbarrows trunks]
It's a big market - to help people find their cars, the centers have enlisted the children. They've put in shop-mobiles to help them cover the grounds. [Macy's parking lots elephants signs]
They're added banks of storage lockers, miles of check out counters and endless rows of carts. Carts rolling down the malls of Southdale, at Northland, at Gulf Gate, Sunrise, at Eastpointe, at Hillsdale in California. [shopping carts Edina, Minnesota Michigan children red wagons]
These young adults, shopping with the same determination that led them to the suburbs in the first place, are the going-est part of a nation on wheels. [strollers]
Living by the automobile, the first young adults in the age of the push-button! [station wagons convertibles convertible tops gizmos inventions]
[pushbuttons footpedals knobs technology controls switches jukeboxes St. John Terrell's Music Circus, Lambertville, N.J., Route U.S. 202 loudspeakers escalators Muzak elevator music department stores inflatable swimming pools plastic pools baby carriages hats mirrors checkout lines bagging charging credit cards charge-a-plates]
Like the rest of life in suburbia, shopping has a family flavor. "Do you remember what size you are?" "I knew we bought a tree to go with it" "that looks pretty nice" "we'll take it." [mothers children shoestores hats]
These busy families make the shopping centers look young and colorful. [shopping carts pinwheels color transitions surrealism]
They have a "let's go see" quality that brings crowds to community events and promotions. [malls exhibits marketing automobiles fashion shows archery tournaments bows and arrows competitions weddings marriages]
For the children, whom the young adults have always at hand, there's plenty to do and see. While his family shops a boy can catch a fish, ride the rides, go to the circus, visit the center zoo and have his hair cut. [voyeurism pools animal statues]
And if that doesn't tire him out, his mother can put him in the center's nursery school where he can get paint on his shirt, see his friends and wear himself out on the bars. [signs Noah's Ark. A Safe Place to leave Your Child while You Shop.]
Since these young adults seem to be able to outlast their children, they stash them away at a neighbor's house and go back to the center for more. [tiredness sleeping fatigue living rooms]
[dance music Thom McAn nighttime night signs neon Macy's Farmers Market dancing McCrory's National Shirt Shops Kay's H. Liebes Moars Cafeteria Stonestown Shopping Center, San Francisco, California]
This is the life young adults lead, summed up recently in a single phrase - [nighttime rain shopping centers malls]
and dramatized by Redbook in major shopping centers all over the country. For more than two years, Redbook had been working with merchants associations in shopping centers studying young adults. [Easy Living signs Mondawmin Mall Enter Easy Living Baltimore, Maryland Watermelon Let's Have a Picnic]
When the Easy Living promotion was presented, almost every store joined in. The first center-wide promotion in the history of marketing. [Singer Sewing Center wine store windows display windows automobile dealers tracking shots]
Before Redbook could develop a successful selling program for young adults, it had to get out and see them many different ways. [rearview rear-view mirrors surveillance reflections observation runbys streets people]
(driving along in car)
It had to get to know them so well, that it could become a magazine solely for them. What are young adults like from an editor's point-of-view? Well, they're not so much highbrows or lowbrows - as wrinkled brows.
They're serious, and no wonder. [picket signs: On Strike for Better Wages, Job Security IUE-CIO, Up with Faubus - Down with Integration, shelter Korean War G.I.'s American army troops soldiers United Nations Cold War orphans children Roy Cohn Joseph McCarthy Congressional hearings anticommunism anti-Communism unions labor strikes social unrest conflict Fifties violence overturning cars automobiles mass picketing mobs civil rights movement school integration Little Rock, Arkansas white racism National Guard air raid sirens civil defense fallout shelters nuclear war atomic war A-bombs Hungary civil war Hungarian refugees]
To give these serious young adults the substance they want, to build a durable relationship with each reader, Redbook edits for one person at a time. [leisure lawns planting trees affluence]
[The Sexual Responsibility of Woman by Maxine Davis, Is My Job Hurting My Family?, What Husbands and Wives Need Most by John Kord Lagemann, How Can a Husband and Wife Live Together woman reading attention pensive living rooms fireplaces magazine articles gender roles sex roles]
Having established a personal relationship with its readers, Redbook then talks to them, so that they recognize their own living situations in its pages. I wonder whether we could be happy in a place like that. [children toys blocks "The Strangest Place to Find a Happy Family" by John Kord Lagemann]
When we brought the baby home, I thought Billy looked awfully worried. I've got a boy just like him, comes home from school, always asking questions." [Jealousy Among Your Children illustrations Smart Aleck]
I remember the first time my daughter asked me about God. [How a Child Meets God]
They were out on strike for months. If that ever happened to us, I don't know what my husband would do. [One Family's Crisis]
Just as the realities of family life are thoroughly woven into Redbook, so are the realities of community life. Many young adults come to the suburbs as ex-apartment renters, so, what about the roads, the schools . . . [development sewers infrastructure crowding growth]
Will somebody please explain what a bond issue is? [Why Veterans Get Too Much or Too Little by Andre Fontaine, Is Your School Board Hurting Your Child? by Martin L. Gross, How Safe Is the Poultry You Eat? by Ruth and Edward Beecher, I Live in a Development . . . and Hate It, I Live in a Development . . . and Love It, How to Save Your Community Play Land, The Battle Over Religion in the Schools, The 10 Congressmen Who Have Done Most for Young People cocktail parties discussions arguments couples husbands wives shoes]
Writing for young adults, Redbook's editors have to keep learning and analyzing. Without too much crystal ball gazing, Redbook's editors have to keep an eye to the future. [mothers and children lawns crystal balls lawn ornaments mercury balls teenagers jalopies convertibles cars youth culture]
There's a whole new generation coming, soon-to-be young adults, a bigger-than-ever market of people who have a history of their own:
who remember all the way back to Eisenhower, who probably never saw their mother use a wringer. think automobiles are household appliances, [laundromats washing machines]
and have reserved seats on the next rocket to leave the earth! [space exploration rockets surrealism aerials rocketry]
But right now, you can ride along with the happy-go-spending, buy-it-now young adults of today. Ride with the young adults who are buying 70 percent of all homes sold. [Ferris wheels products Tide fans surrealism commodities consumerism county fairs carnivals]
Swing into the orbit of more than two and half million families, right now, with the only mass magazine aimed exclusively at young adults. [Redbook, the magazine for young adults.]
Suburbia Baby boom Children Parents Shopping centers Consumerism Merry-go-rounds
"These are what Redbook means by its young adults. People in a certain living situation, with particular interests and particular goals.
"As the babies start coming, they [young adults] usually decide to concentrate on their houses, with the woman staying home to learn new ways to run a household."
"On their own for the first time and determined not to miss a single new homemaking idea. They're busy just making choices. "
"So hardly realizing it, they come into their purchasing stage and are off on a wild non-stop ride. "
"It's a happy-go-spending whirl, reflecting in windows of the suburban shopping centers where they go to buy."
"For these young adults, the shopping centers have built fountains, commissioned statues, put in restaurants and free-standing stairways. They've included banks, loan offices, rental plans (?), plant nurseries and places to buy building materials. The shopping centers see these young adults as people whose homes are always in need of expansion.People who buy in large quantities and truck it away in their cars. "
"These young adults that shop with the determination that lead them to the suburbs in the first place are the goingest part of a nation on wheels."
"What are young adults like from an editor's point of view? Well they're not so much highbrows or lowbrows as wrinkled brows. They're serious and no wonder. "
"There is a whole new generation coming -- soon-to-be young adults. A bigger than ever market of people who have a history of their own. Who remember all the way back to Eisenhower. Who probably never saw their mother use a wringer, think automobiles are household appliance and have reserved seats on the next rocket to leave the earth."<BR>
March 4, 2015 Subject:
The development of suburbs in the US
destroyed the sense of sharing and community. It destoyed self sufficient neighbor hoods where all your needs, public and private venues for social intercourse like taverns, restaurants, coffee shops, church, doctor, bawdy houses, movie theaters, dry goods, hardware stores, etc and many luxuries were all within walking distance. by the 1980's, before individuals being tethered to their mobile devices, talking to neighbors or strangers even in safe public places became rare.
I was born and raised in a suburb and had a detrimental effect on my child and teen years. And oh the horrible racism, even here in the north east usa. I deliberately went to public high school to make friends with blacks and other ethnicities.
The developments around the interstate exits starting in the 1990's have sucked everything out of the city, even libraries and doctors.
It is no wonder that the US has become a brainwashed totalitarian-capitalist empire. If i were not disabled and had just ten thousand bucks i would move even to the slums of bombay for good.USA is a dystopia and spreads its amorality and immorality across the world.
What a hoot! As a collector of ephemera from round about this era, I can't but help go bonkers seeing the static pages I possess dance into action and sing. The direction, narration, imagery... all so illustrative of the era as it was presented, as many of us from most any generation perceive it, or perhaps were taught to perceive it. Well, nail-on-head. I do wish there was more of a cultural mix among the actors/actresses, but, yes, that's another conversation altogether. The ladies and gents in charge of the production had their demographics to pull from. Boo. Anyway, still can't stop watching it. Awesome. Check out, 'Paper and I' at texasarchive.org
Insane paper sack/bag.
December 16, 2013 Subject:
Kacey Musgraves - Merry Go Round
Some of this same footage was used in Kacey's Music Video.
I would like to know if the "young adults at home: a Handbook for fast and easy last-minute meals" shown at ~6:25 was a separate Redbook cookbook or a part of the magazine. does any one have one of these they could take a picture / scan of the entire cover?
February 25, 2013 Subject:
...I found the editing and style of the film to be quite well-put-together. Quite stylish at times.
February 22, 2012 Subject:
The "Divorce" Generation
This film portrays that "in between generation" that was too young to have served in WWII and instead went to Korea if anywhere. What was noticeable to me is that fully 75% of the people of this generation, that I knew, got divorced at least once - in total counterdistinction to the generation that just preceded them; and also they were more likely to divorxe than the post war baby boomers. One wonders why that was. About the only difference I can come up with is that this generation HAD to get married or look "you-know-what" whereas the post war boomers took marriage more as an option, and those who weren't marriage material just skipped it - and fled to San Francisco.
Loved those outdoor shopping centers - they were so cool; and this film even has a segment of that outdoor shopping center muzak going in the background.
Otherwise a overly long film that has a lot of repetition. All those kids make me nervous. And BTW, notice how prolific these people were...just like WWII vets - except that their baby making days were often curtailed by the big "D."
December 1, 2011 Subject:
Nice memories, bad memories, just like today...
I was born in 1958 and, yes, I miss the relative safety of the streets, the cleaniness, the politeness, the professionalism of people serving you in businesses, etc. I don't like the opposites I experience today. Yet, I 'm glad females were liberated, people of color get the respect that's their birth-right, gays are out, and all the other bad stuff is seen as bad. It was a mix then, its a mix now. I hope it's all good in the future for my kids. It's not now for us with rude and dangerous folks everywhere of all types and lack of respect coming from all directions: reverse bigotry, reverse sexism. We need to respect everyone...everyone. Peace, love and hairgrease!!
April 8, 2011 Subject:
Aweseome stock footage for mangling
Can't wait for all that to be replaced with "progress"... I grew up in a suburb (or 2) not much different than this but 20 some years later... now we have zero lot lines, cookie cutter houses, detroit, etc... oh well.
August 3, 2010 Subject:
Mom and Dad sure spent a lot of time at the mall...
April 15, 2010 Subject:
Like a Norman Rockwell Painting
I know that life was not THIS simple in the 50s, however; it was fun to view it as if it were. I felt like I was brought back in time here. Before I was even born. :) But none the less; to a simpler era than today.
April 14, 2010 Subject:
the US population in 2009 was 304,060,000 persons according to the census. Of that 61,421,000 people were classified as non-white, meaning that we had about 80% of our population was white. In 1950, the population was 150,597,361 total with 15,482,000 people being classified as non-white, meaning that the white population was nearly 90% white. The percentage of non-white population doubled in the last 60 years, while the total population nearly tripled. If the total white population is still greater in number than the non-white, are you saying this is STILL A WHITE COUNTRY????
You have to remember, black Americans were not given full rights until the 1960's and were rarely treated as equals in the 50's, so this WHITE COUNTRY of yours is based on a skewed and prejudicial accounting. Advertising today is more demographically dispersed than it was back then because we are a bit more "enlightened" than we were in the 50's. But in reality, it is because advertisers are now more color-blind when it comes to whose money they take. In fact, more advertising is geared to take advantage of non-whites and any marginalized segment of society then ever before...
So the 1950s was only "WHITE" because people were idiots and racist, not that they aren't today, they are just more willing to make money off of (or get votes from) anyone regardless of ethnicity, race or gender.
October 25, 2009 Subject:
How it was
Not a review - to to ALL you historical revisionists. (That means judging history by the standards of your present experience). In 1950, according to the US census the population of America was 89.9% white. That's why advertising etc was "so white". IT WAS A WHITE COUNTRY!!!!!
I am only stating the facts - go look it up. The snarky comments from today's kids and psudo-adults make me laugh. Those of us who were lucky enough to grow up in this era just look back and smile. You can have your iPods, cell phones, play dates and interne - I wouldn't trade one day of playing outside with my gang at the park for all of your electronic babysitters.
Reviewer:Eight Bit Bandit
July 27, 2009 Subject:
"The Goingest Part of a Nation On Wheels!"
"Say, honey, now that the war is over, how'sabout you and me go buy our own personal Chevrolet landship and cruise that sucker right on down to Macy's for enough shopping to gag a horse?"
On the plus side, I finally understand my grandparents.
May 20, 2009 Subject:
Where we went wrong.
This film should be watched: Not for a look at the good old days,but to study the beginnings of our modern culture's endless expansion and consumption at the expense of our environment.
December 6, 2008 Subject:
Not a Black and White Thing!
This film is fun and amusing for many reasons. I like the person who said it's interesting to see this kind of enthusiasm for the 1950s without a note of sarcasm or irony. Well, having been there the first time (though I was 2 when this film was made) I can tell you this was serious business.
The business was what Darren Stevens (as in "Bewitched") did for a living: Advertising. This film sells advertising for Redbook so that, yes, you can spend only 29 cents at YOUR local supermarket and participate in a forum with your young, white, middle-class neighbors on all the topics of the day. This is not an art film or an expression of personal politics, not a "shill" because it's not hidden in the least: this film is for potential advertisers. Is it good? Is it bad? Neither. It just Was, and why NOT reach for the American Dream? Yes, it was only 15 and 5 years earlier that these "young people" or their older siblings were in Japan or France or Korea fighting a war, and war is about to happen again in Vietnam. Why not try to build a "perfect" society? What's wrong with that?
It's charming because I think it's unwitting--even the Republican president Eisenhower's administration took better care of the poor than we do now, taxing the rich and making it possible for "young people" to have what they lost their friensds and limbs to have: freedom. By the way, I am an artist and writer, a socialist, a feminist, an environmentalist, worked to get Obama elected, and currently divorced and on Medi-Cal. What do I admire about this time? Their medical insurance. Gainfully employed graphic designers, illustrators, writers, filmmakers, who had to be creative every day--and they were incredibly creative and productive.
I also love their sense of community, of building a Utopia for themselves and their children. My parents were very involved in their communities; their charitable organizations and clubs. My mother founded a local theatre group, sang in a local chorus, went to neighborhood council meetings, were active in their synagogue, and we all went to visit relatives on Sunday in our Buick Special.Allo the familied knew one another and walked in and out of one another's homes like they were our own.
Sure, their cookbooks were full of mayonnaise and other gelatinous goo that eventually killed them (well not MY parents, they're both 88) Sure, their unwitting faith in authority left many of us in search of a cause...but without this burst of enthusiasm I don't think there could have been the fantastic changes, the desire for meaning and love that made the 60s the 60s. You have to understand history on it's own terms. They didn't know they were sculpting holes in the ozone layer.
I think the most embarrassing thing about it is how freakin' WHITE everyone is...but even many of my non-white friends grew up with similar aspirations -- they wanted what everyone wanted, freedom, stability, education, and healthy children. But now we have a chance to give it another shot...and hopefully do it right this time.
August 29, 2008 Subject:
This is a really stunning piece in several ways... the footage is fantastic ....and it's so very odd to hear the narrator speaking of rampant consumerism and the push-button culture, as well as extolling the virtues of urban sprawl without the slightest hint of irony or sarcasm.
April 25, 2008 Subject:
It's still like that
"Now we have concrete jungles that bear little resemblance to what is shown here. At least the packaged lie looked a little appealing but look at what it had mutated into!"
I live in Australia, this is what our suburbs look like now (modernised, obviously). Outside of Sydney (our largest city, of 5 million) basically no concrete jungles, all open suburbs.
March 7, 2008 Subject:
Life in the 50's
New ways and optimistic thoughts via Redbook guide the viewer through this film aimed at the 1957 young adult middle class generation who moved to the suburbs. A good look at another generation and time.
June 30, 2005 Subject:
A slice of history
The narration should be listened to with one ear at best - there is lots of talk about "young adults", which is not surprising as the film was made for a specialised audience - but the images are terrific. They are surprisingly natural - there are relatively few scenes which are obviously posed - and they give the most fantastic insight into 1950s culture. You can see the Formica table tops, tail fins on cars, gigantic household appliances, supermarkets, beehive hairstyles and a thousand and one other visual manifestations of that era! Everyone shown is white, in a family and reasonably well-off; however, suburbia was like that then and it is good to see things presented as they were without being romanticised or idealised.
March 13, 2005 Subject:
What I thought started out as a good idea was probably never true. Rather, people were lead into believing that this was the best way to live. Now we have concrete jungles that bear little resemblance to what is shown here. At least the packaged lie looked a little appealing but look at what it had mutated into! I think a fitting title would be, how to best package people into experimental rat-like living. Is there any wonder why people refer to the daily commute as a rat race? The people who really struck out rich were people like developers and doctors. You need doctors to cure the symptoms that never go away with this kind of rat-trap, plastic-venere, materialistic kind of living. The family is only an afterthought, and they lie when they say that they care about families. Families are good because they generate more wealth for the developers and other consumers. What I once thought as nostalgia is actually repugnant especially after the long run. The outlaw bikers, the intellectual bohemians and beatniks, and later the hippies were kind of the other necessary side that should have caused people to reflect on the miserable, fake facade kind of living that this movie almost desperately encourages everyone to follow. Another era of conspicous consumption that began at the turn of the century but with bells and whistles.
May 7, 2004 Subject:
Stylistically ahead of its time
ÃÂIn the SuburbsÃÂ was commissioned by Redbook Magazine to solicit advertisers who wanted to target young suburban families. The filmmakers used a hand-held camera and informally filmed newly built suburban shopping malls and what appears to be their own friends, families and children. The resulting meandering camerawork and documentary intimacy ironically foreshadows the later ÃÂundergroundÃÂ films made ten years later during the counter-culture years of the sixties. This technically adventurous film also mixes black and white with color footage, uses still photos and plays with unusual camera anglesÃÂother methods that anticipate film and video work done later in the century. The reason the film gives for its stylistic variety is that advertisers need to see young adult consumers in "many different ways" in order to sell them products. ÃÂIn the SuburbsÃÂ is one more reminder that capitalism and bohemianism go hand in hand.
January 29, 2004 Subject:
Where the Malling of the World Began
Here is a priceless view of the socio-economic conditions which led to what we now have to live with - the malling of the world.
When each drive-thru store was a novelty, few could have imagined the vast reach of the developers. In the decades to follow in their insatiable desire to make uniform, sanitary, conveniant, and new, the builders of malls and roadside culture generally began the process of
social engineering en masse.
It looks cute today but for everyone who laments the passing of community in the wake of McWorld, this film chronicles the beginning of the end.
September 1, 2003 Subject:
When the going was good
I enjoyed this film. The film was aimed at people who had come through a depression and 2 wars and were now interested in moving to a nice home raising a family and enjoying things that their parents could not afford. Somehow this has been made out to be a bad thing by revisionist critics who like nothing better than to look down their noses at these people enjoying the economic expansion of the 50s. I say thank god for these 1950's "young adults". It's their whining kids who I have no use for.
August 19, 2003 Subject:
Highly gorgeous short which is, in most part, a shill for Redbook Magazine. But in it's layers is a fascinating study, just about the best I've seen, about 1950's suburbia and consumerism, with the focus on the shopping malls.
The film starts off by some overwhelmingly hypnotic shots of people gaily playing about in their lovely suburban home in color, and then we have shots of the dirty city life they left behind (In black and white). These 'Young Adults' (20?-25?) move here to get out of city life, have kids, and of course, to shop shop shop. This is a very Stepford wives creepfest going on, where women don't make a move unless contacting their Redbook and the men.. well, the men don't seem to DO anything, except, well, throw parties. Great magazine articles are shown as well, such as "How can I please my husband" and "How Chicken Dinners can poison you" (or something like that). FULL of amazing shots and scenarios, this is a MUST SEE on this site!
November 5, 2002 Subject:
In the Suburbs
We're talking 50s, folks. 50s big white families with big cars who live in little boxes made of ticky-tacky that all look just the same. 50s "young adults" who go to the mall and spend lots of money. Redbook magazine, the makers of this film, claimed to have its fingers on the pulse of this big-spending bunch from the ÃÂburbs. The film was obviously made to sell this demographic group to advertisers, and seeing such a film illuminates how much the 50s suburban nuclear family mythos was a marketing creation. These "young adults" are portrayed as consumers only, not as actual people. Although the film pays lip service to 50s social and political issues in the form of brief newsreel clips, it's just to show how "serious" these young adults are, and how Redbook addresses this "seriousness" by running articles like "The Sexual Responsibility of Women". But don't worry, advertisers, they're not too seriousÃÂÃÂthey're back at the mall in the next scene. What's really scary is how these rigid marketing concepts became ideals to aspire to during the 50s, and how they've become items of nostalgia today. A fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the 50s suburban reality tunnel.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****. Also available on Our Secret Century, Vol. 6: The Uncharted Landscape.